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Stay Warm and Safe This Winter – Know the Early Warning Signs of Frostbite

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Stay Warm and Safe This Winter – Know the Early Warning Signs of Frostbite

As temperatures plummet, it is even more important to keep yourself protected when you venture outdoors. Many normally temperate regions of the country have been experiencing severe cold this winter, and that has left millions of residents ill-prepared for the sudden cold snap.

Even people who are used to living with cold may not be prepared for the extreme temperatures that have been a hallmark of this winter. Even if you only plan to be outside for a few minutes, you need to watch out for the early warning signs of frostbite.

Know the Early Warning Signs

Frostbite can happen surprisingly quickly, especially when temperatures and wind chills fall below zero. If you notice any of these early warning signs, you need to get inside and get medical help as soon as possible.

  • Numbness of the skin especially exposed skin
  • A prickling or tingling feeling on your skin
  • Dizziness and disorientation
  • Red, white or yellow skin
  • Blisters


Protecting Yourself from Frostbite

Whether you are snow blowing or shoveling your driveway or just heading to the mailbox, you need to protect yourself from the extreme cold temperatures. Keeping yourself safe from frostbite means:

  • Dressing in layers – protect yourself and minimize the amount of exposed skin by dressing in layers. Wear a sweatshirt over your short-sleeve shirt before putting on your warm winter coat
  • Cover as much exposed skin as possible – exposed skin is at risk of frostbite after only a few minutes. If you are going to be outside in the extreme cold – even for a few minutes – you need a good pair of gloves to keep your hands warm and a hat to do the same for your head. Adding a scarf can help keep you warmer and reduce the amount of heat escaping from your body.
  • Limit your exposure – one of the best ways to protect yourself is to limit the amount of time you spend in those extreme conditions. If it normally takes you 30 minutes to clear snow from your driveway, break the job up into three 10 minute sessions instead of tackling the whole thing at once.
  • Dress for the worst – always dress for the worst conditions, even if you plan to be out only a few minutes. Many people get frostbite when they get caught outdoors for longer than they anticipated. Bring your hat, gloves, and scarf even if you are just leaving your home for a minute or two.


Get Help Right Away

You should call your doctor even if you just suspect you might have frostbite. Getting prompt treatment is the best way to prevent long-term damage. When treated promptly, frostbite is very treatable. If you delay treatment, you could be looking at serious skin damage or worse.

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